Instagram has always been a safe haven for book lovers, a place where people can show off their private libraries full of white oak bookshelves, novels organized by color, aloe plants, and inspirational coffee mugs.
But there’s a deeper, stranger, and far murkier part of book Instagram, known colloquially as “Bookstagram.” Here, you’ll find some of the platform’s more eccentric thematic offerings — a satirical dating profile account for a Southern Gothic writer, a page dedicated to bizarro horror fiction, and one that celebrates the weirdest ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s Young Adult (YA) fiction.
This is a level of Bookstagram that only the bravest — and the most bored — typically enter. I call it “Deep Bookstagram.” In many ways it’s the exact opposite of traditional Bookstagram, which usually comes with a cheery, gratingly cozy demeanor. Deep Bookstagram loves to make fun of the sunny nostalgia of traditional Bookstagram. Deep Bookstagram isn’t afraid to be weird.
Sure, these accounts often have fewer followers than the traditional ones, but that doesn’t make them any less beloved or necessary. Deep Bookstagram doesn’t give a f*ck about popularity.
If you’re a book lover tired of seeing the same old accounts, I highly recommend you travel there.
Here are some of the best accounts Deep Bookstagram has to offer.
Love your YA classics? I encourage you to follow this account, which spotlights some of the best melodramatic YA paperback book covers from the ’70s through the ’90s. The account currently enjoys some 2,000 followers, though it deserves a lot more.
@retro_reads both collects these antique books and restores them — kind of the way you would a painting, but digitally — to their original trashy splendor. It’s an art form.
Like @retro_reads, @vintage_covers collects awkward, nostalgic book covers, largely from before the 2000s. The account, which enjoys 3,328 followers, photoshops in new titles for books, some of which are very dumb, but all of which are very funny. @vintage_covers pokes fun at the solemn and erudite nature of traditional book culture simply by making some crass jokes.
This is the kind of lowbrow Bookstagram humor we need.
@paperbackparadise follows a similar formula to @vintage_covers, but has a much larger fan base (it enjoys well over 96,000 followers, compared to covers’ 3,328 at the time of this publication). The tone here is also darker and more aggressive. Think of it as the antidote for folks annoyed by the tireless optimism of regular Bookstagram.
This account represents the very best of Deep Bookstagram. It stars Southern Gothic novelist and short story writer Flannery O’Connor — who died in 1964, and who, given her hermetic reputation, would be the very last person you would ever imagine to be on Instagram. The account has 1,116 followers.
The creator of the account created a Flannery O’Connor mask that they travel around the world with, documenting “Flannery” in weird places, searching for love. Followers can track that mask/representation as it moves around the globe.
Have you ever gone to your local public library and wondered in amazement how some of those books ended up on the shelves in the first place? If so, check out this account, which showcases an array of the most peculiar books donated to the Schenectady County Public Library, located in the state of New York. The account only has 505 followers and deserves thousands more.
Who could forget such bestsellers as Candymaking in Canada and Tell Your Dog You’re Pregnant?
Similar to @donatedbooks, @awfullibrarybooks, which has 2,487 followers, collects some of the weirdest volumes ever donated to libraries. The account is curated by two librarians who also run the popular blog “Awful Library Books.” The books come from their current holdings at a public library in Michigan, as well as their travels from all over the world.
Just look at this damn psychic cat.
You’ll find a lot of Baby-Sitters Club titles on Deep Bookstagram, and it’s easy to see why. @covercritiques deconstructs the covers, as well as those of other teen series of the ’90s, exposing them for all the quiet aggression and insidious cultural subtext contained within. The account has just 919 highly dedicated followers.
If you’re looking for a postmodern Baby-Sitters Club deep read, this is your account.
Demonic paperback fiction has a home on @paperbacksfromhell, an account that explores some of the strangest and most sinisterly comical *actual* books from the paperback horror genre. Traditional horror is already gory, but the books on @paperbacksfromhell are on a different level — a deeply weird one.
There appears to be no photoshopping here. The account it just naturally this bizarre. It has 2,946 followers.
This Instagram account features fictional, far-too-close-to-home book titles, represented in comic form.
These titles are powerfully real and therefore a source of great personal horror. In keeping with the resonance of what it has to offer, the account enjoys close to 119,000 followers, a great number for Deep Bookstagram. Browse at your own risk.
One of the brighter spots on Deep Bookstagram, @ice_cream_books includes various ice cream formations juxtaposed on top of or near books. That’s it. It’s that simple, that dumb, and that good. No wonder it has around 29,000 followers.
For all your regular book needs, you can turn to traditional Bookstagram. But to satisfy the deeply bizarre book-loving sectors of your soul, reach further into Deep Bookstagram. There’s a home for you in between these dusty digital pages.
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